The miniature irises in my garden are the first to herald the coming Spring. From that point until the first freeze a battle ensues. My drive to paint pitted again a passion to dig in the dirt. My garden is an ever evolving living canvas. Plants are my paints. I play with their colors, textures and placement in much the same way. I have favorites that I come back to year after year, but new plants are explored with some succeeding, some failing. It's a learning process.
This past weekend I made my first nursery run of the year though I didn't intend to plant yet. Past experience taught me that waiting until the right time to plant often meant missing out on the best selection from those who were jumping the gun and buying too early. Particularly when it comes to the coleus that I always plant in my shaded bed. Right now they are filling the kitchen counter after the temperature dropped 30 degrees the day after I bought them (but I got what I wanted).
After I loaded up the two-tiered cart with plants at the nursery, I realized that I didn't have the strength to push it up an incline to go toward the area to pay. I get the most irritated at my illnesses when I'm caught off guard. I forget that I don't have the strength to do things I used to. The cart wasn't THAT heavy. An employee came by and offered help, which I accepted, though irrationally, I felt inept that an older woman was having to help me. I was compelled to explain that I had illnesses and was a little weak fearing that she might think I was lazy. I should have been able to move a stupid cart. She said that maybe the flowers would make me feel better. Flowers always make her feel better. Yes, I do love my garden and it definitely brings me joy.
This is when I came to a second realization of how my garden is a reflection of me. First, of course, it's another form of art. Another outlet for creativity. Secondly, the state of my garden also mirrors the state of my health. I thought about when we first moved into the house. The yard was wild, natural. Trees, yucca and cactus. Rock on the ground. No grass. I didn't want to tame it completely just provide some structure and places for plants that needed actual dirt to grow. I started excavating and building. Hauling rocks around. Bringing in dirt. Nothing could stop me. As I got sick, the beautiful garden I built suffered neglect. I'd try to work in it. At one point I couldn't last 15 minutes pulling weeds without total exhaustion. The summer I spent 6 weeks in the hospital, the summer I nearly died, my garden was drying up, brown with neglect, only the hardiest plants stood a chance. When I returned home, I was shocked at the change in the way it looked, but I also was unrecognizable to those who knew me. Even to myself. Slowly the garden and I are recovering. The damaged parts of ourselves regrowing together. Both of us flowering.
About the painting:
This piece, "Mum Shadows," is from a photo I took last Fall in my garden. The mums grow next to a sandstone boulder and I was attracted to the long blue shadows they cast onto the rock. They are of equal importance to this piece as the flowers themselves. I likely painted the first flower 5 different times trying to work out the best method of portraying the petals to stay true to the plant. Unlike the uniform, structured pots of mums that can be purchased each fall, I like to let mine grow back year after year so that they take on a more natural appearance. This piece will be on display
in the historic downtown square in Granbury, Texas for the Gardens of Granbury and Glen Rose painting and photography show April 27th through May 1st at Granbury Square Plaza. Stop by. I'll be painting both Friday and Saturday nights. I haven't signed it yet. I'm fighting with myself on whether it should horizontal or vertical
Acrylic on board
See all of Rebecca's work at rebeccazook.com